Friday, October 17, 2008

How to cook basmati rice

I cook and eat basmati rice almost everyday. Soaking time depends on the brand and the cooking method. For high quality aged brands, you must rinse and soak for about 30 minutes. For pre-parboiled varieties, ten minutes is fine. Then add to boiling water, cover, lower heat, and cook for 17-20 minutes. Soaking will ensure that the basmati grains become long and fluffy and beautiful. My daily rice is India Gate brand, which requires 10 minute soaking, then I do it in the rice cooker. Either way, for baasmati, double the water amount to the rice amount. A trick is that when it is finished, allow the rice to "rest" for 10 minutes before fluffing it. This will prevent the grains from breaking apart and result in a fluffier pot of rice. I also might add butter/ghee at this point. I feel the ghee perfume comes stronger if you add it at the end rather than boiling it with the rice.

For biryanis or "party" rice dishes, I do a par-boiling method which is like cooking pasta. This is actually the most refined way to do it because you will get beautiful, long, separated grains of rice. I am just lazy to do this everyday and I save the technique for weekend biryanis or parties. For this method, you MUST soak the rice, for Indian Gate, it would be 30 minutes or even up to an hour. While the rice is soaking, put a huge pot of water to boil. Add whole garam masala ingredients such as a couple of bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, some black pepper corns, some cloves, some black and green cardamom, whatever takes your fancy. Allow this to come to a rolling boil. Also, heavily salt this water, about double the salt you would use in a plain boiled method, because the rice will not absorb enough salt and will come out bland if you don't. If I don't want the whole garam masala in the rice afterwards, I sometimes strain the water and discard the whole spices, then return the water to a boil. This way the water has garam masala perfume without the spices that people hate to accidentally bite into. Anyway, add in the pre-soaked rice. When the water reaches a boil again, set your timer for 3-4 minutes, and allow it to boil. Have a colander set aside in your sink. When your timer goes off, strain the rice, allow the water to go down the drain. In the meanwhile, you will have painted a stove top pot or a baking casserole with butter or ghee. (If you want a tah-daig crust at the bottom, use lots of ghee or butter) Quickly put the rice in either the pot or casserole. If you are doing stove top, (you would add your biryani gravy or whatever at this point) you cover with a slim kitchen towel under the lid, put the flame on high for 1 minute to get things going, then lower the heat and leave covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat allow to rest for 10 minutes, then fluff or transfer to the serving dish. For the casserole, add in rice, cover well, then cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked. This method results in a firmer grain, but it shouldn't be so firm as to seem undercooked.

4 comments:

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Umar Bhandari said...

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